Thursday, 22 October 2015

Rage, rage against the well, whatever you fancy.

This week has felt quite emotionally difficult - for many reasons. Oh where to begin. I know! Things I learnt this week... part 389


So when I arrived in my small market town, I heard only bad things about the local high school. Meanwhile, several years later a good friend told me she was putting her son through the 11 plus. She had struggled to get a good tutor, which would ensure a great chance at passing the exam and going to a fabulous highly academic grammar school in the next county. I immediately got on the case as my son was a year younger and sorted a fab tutor. I was all set. So I thought.

Then it came to visiting the schools. The big wig grammar was fab - just like my old school, in a 70s building. The headmistress seemed fine, not warm or exciting - but safe. The school looked great. All boxes ticked. Then I went to the local high school - set in stunning old buildings, with a beautiful vista, stone chapel and luscious grounds. The headmaster gave a speech so inspiring I nearly jumped up in pew shouting 'Captain my Captain.' He said his school was not an academic hot house, that their motto was to 'aspire and achieve,' that schools must constantly adapt in a world where our intake were barely born by the time Facebook began. I left thinking, 'have I got it wrong?' 

Then I chatted to my son's head teacher and she was brilliant. She asked, "why put your kid through all that pressure at 10?" What if he failed? I did the 11 plus - because in Northern Ireland, one has to, and I swore I would never put my kids through it. 

I realised something huge: my son is not me. He doesn't come from a broken family; he is not an only child; he does not need school in the way I desperately did. It may have been my salvation in many ways - but that was pure luck - luck that I made the amazing friends I did. Luck that I still have them in my life today. 

Instead of getting caught up in all the vacuous social status, the running with the herd, the blind thinking - I listened to my gut. For some people with academic bright kids, the 11 plus is a great idea. My son is emotionally smart, a wonderful peace maker and his teacher said he would probably pass - but not fly though it. Why go through all that stress only to maybe ruin his esteem if all his mates passed and he didn't? Why make him be the kid I was - the kid he isn't? It was hard for me, to let go of all the dreams I had had in my head. But I thought of what school would be best for him - what school really excited me - and how lucky I am that I live in a lovely town where the local one is so impressive. I emailed the tutor. I'm out of it. My son is happy and therefore so am I. 


I got the train back from story conference last night - and met 3 brilliant women (and 2 of their kids). One was a student from London, studying in Glasgow. We envied her youth, until she reminded us that she may never get on the property ladder. And has debts of 40K, before even doing a masters.
She was articulate and lovely and a feminist. She worried about ever having kids and juggling it with a career.

Which is where we took up the gauntlet. All 3 of us worried about work and kids and the eternal juggling. I can honestly say that it hasn't been until this year that I FINALLY think I have got to a place where I have work/life/kid balance. Yet I talk to so many women friends who tearfully admit they want to work - but how on earth do they combine it with motherhood? Just read THIS. If it doesn't make you bloody raging - then you are dead to me. I mean WHAT is the world coming to??? When did it get so hard for women to have careers? Why do we always have to choose?

What is the point of getting degrees and debts and all that jazz if we end up having to leave work or be demoted just for having kids? WHEN are employers going to wake up to the fact there is an army of talented educated women who want to work - but just want to do so with flexible hours or the understanding they have families that sometimes they need to get to. What future is my daughter looking at? One where she has to graduate, pay off her debt, buy a house, meet someone and have kids in 15 years? That is A LOT of pressure to put on women don't you think?


Try as I might I can't get an appointment with my GP - the one I want to see - about my never ending periods and raging hormones. If this is what it is going to be like until the menopause - KILL ME NOW. I'm keeping Tampax in business and not much else. Meanwhile I had my 'NHS check up' which was pointless as I refused to give blood or be weighed. The above article only highlights how ridiculous it has become for a junior doctor - those poor overworked people who do their best and are thwarted at every turn. Before our eyes it crumbles and how do we stop it? Read this and weep. 


Because it looks a feck of a lot better on their tanned, lithe bodies than it will ever look on YOU. They have 15 years on me, no kids and a life spent moisturising, detox dieting and searching for the perfect winter boot. They aren't doing a supermarket sweep of Zara with a crying kid on one arm and the other shouting they 'need a wee.' All you are doing is spending a lot of time wrapping up boxes and going to 'collect plus.'


Well I had to end on a cheery note didn't I? Thank god Halloween is next week. Lychee martinis ahoy! 

Over and out. x

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's so easy to get caught up in the whole ''must get the best school OR ELSE'' drama, in whatever country or area you live... but the fact of it is (as you so rightly say), it depends absolutely on the child and his or her circumstances. My dad, bless him, felt quite strongly that if the local school was decent and properly run and not a crack den, then the social benefit of learning to mix with kids from in and around the area, rich, poor and in between was immeasurable. Now, if I had had any specific needs or there had been some problem, of course that wouldn't have been the case, but as it was, my mates lived quite nearby to where I was, and we met in nursery / reception... and of the 120 matrics (South Africa) in my class, 50 had been together since year 1 or even earlier, 80 of us had been together since junior primary... these ties are irreplaceable. Anyway, if the school is pleasant and properly-run, and the teachers appear dedicated, well then, why pressurise the child?

You've done the right thing, for certain!